BOOK PERSON | Vol. 9
|Michelle Cyca||Jan 31|
I was disappointed this week to learn that Trickster has been cancelled in the wake of Michelle Latimer’s Pretendian scam; it was a strange and beautiful show, totally different from Eden Robinson’s books, and like nothing else I have seen before. Partly that’s because Indigenous stories are so rare on screen. When they appear, Indigenous characters are usually in the role of the inscrutable mystic, casino owner, or stoic savage, and always in the background of a white person’s story.
I hope we see more stories like it in film and TV, but in the meantime you can (and should) take a dip in the abundant waters of Indigenous fiction and poetry. And for that reason, I’m especially delighted to share Danielle Roulette’s favourite books with you this week.
Dani is the cofounder of Erin and Dani’s Book Club, a virtual Indigenous book club, and the reader behind Thunderbird Woman Reads, her beautiful account featuring Indigenous fiction, poetry, and memoir. If you’re not following her already, treat yourself to her lovely recommendations.
I sent her a DM out of the blue, and she graciously responded with some thoughtful answers and wonderful books, nearly all of which are by Indigenous authors. I’m so pleased to share them with you. Thank you Dani!
Where are you from, and where do you live now?
I’m from Dog Creek First Nation. Born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba and have lived in a small lake town called Gimli for the last 3 or so years.
Describe your literary tastes.
I read a lot of Indigenous fiction. I like writing that really takes my breath away. Two of my favourites for that are Louise Erdrich and Leanne Betasomasake Simpson. There’s a certain depth to their writing that’s almost indescribably intense.
What is your favourite independent bookstore in the whole wide world?
Bison Books in downtown Winnipeg! Definitely my happy place.
Where do you read at home?
On the corner of my sectional nearest my thrifted vintage lamp. It was the first brand new couch I ever purchased so it holds a special place in my heart. If weather is permitting then I’m most likely reading at the beach.
What time of day do you do your best reading?
In the winter I read at night, but in the summer I read during the daytime since I’m always outside.
What are the last five books you read?
LaRose by Louise Erdrich
Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction, edited by Joshua Whitehead
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
A History of My Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt
Whereas by Layli Long Soldier
How do you choose your books?
I mostly reading Indigenous works and find out about new titles from friends or Indigenous writers online. A lot of the time they’re works by authors I’ve read before.
Do you keep track of what you read?
I sort of use my bookstagram account to monitor what I’ve been recently reading. I try to update my Goodreads shelves also but sometimes I forget.
What book is next to your bed right now?
Dancing on Our Turtle's Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence by Leanne Betasomasake Simpson.
What was your favourite book as a child? And do you still love it as an adult?
My favourite book as a child was White Oleander by Janet Fitch. Definitely not age appropriate reading but my mom bought it for me at a library book sale for $2 when I was around ten and it opened up my mind to more serious writing and I think shifted the kind of books I would pick up as I matured. It’s still a favourite.
Do you have a beloved under-the-radar author who you think more people should read?
Norma Dunning! Her book of short stories, Annie Muktuk, is one I’m always recommending and I’ve been happy to see my efforts paying off by seeing it on bookstagram more often.
What book would you give someone if you wanted them to really understand you?
Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanne Betasomasake Simpson.
What is the funniest book you have ever read?
Nobody Cries at Bingo by Dawn Dumont.
Generally speaking, I'm interested in books you love, but I am also desperate to know: What’s a widely-praised, critically-acclaimed book that you hated?
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.
If you read scary books, what's the most terrifying novel you've read?
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones.
Have you ever read a book about your hometown?
The Break by Katherena Vermette is a beautiful ode to Winnipeg.
What book are you most excited to read next?
The Removed by Brandon Hobson.
Thank you to everyone who sent essay recommendations after the last issue! I don’t have a question this week, just two of the wonderful recommendations I received that were such a pleasure to read in the bath last night: Empire of Seeds, sent by Zola, which made me cry; and The Heavy Air, from Karen.
If you know a BOOK PERSON, please send them my way so I can pry into their shelves. All preferences welcome! And if you enjoyed this edition of BOOK PERSON, why not subscribe or share it with a pal by clicking these cheery buttons?